How is glaucoma treated?
As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eye drops, laser surgery, and surgery in the operating room are used to help prevent further damage. In some cases, oral medications may be prescribed.
With any type of glaucoma, periodic examinations are very important to prevent vision loss. Because glaucoma can progress without your knowledge, adjustments to your treatment may be necessary from time to time.
SLT Laser (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty)
A recent advance in ophthalmology is the use of the SLT laser as a first line of defense and an alternative to eye drops in treating glaucoma. SLT laser has been clinically proven to treat glaucoma by safely and effectively reducing intraocular pressure in a brief office procedure that is covered by Medicare!
The SLT laser selectively targets and stimulates certain cells while preserving surrounding tissue. This produces a biological effect in an area of the eye called the trabecular meshwork which stimulates the body’s natural mechanisms to enhance fluid outflow and thereby reduce intra-ocular pressure.
Glaucoma can also be controlled with eye drops taken daily. These medications lower eye pressure, either by decreasing the amount of aqueous fluid produced within the eye, or by improving the flow through the drainage angle.
Never change or stop taking your medications without consulting your ophthalmologist. If you are about to run out of your medication, ask your doctor at Quigley Eye Specialists if you should have your prescription refilled.
Glaucoma medications can preserve your vision, but they may also produce side effects. You should call us at Quigley Eye Specialists if you think you might be experiencing side effects.
Some eye drops may cause:
- A stinging or itching sensation
- Red eyes or redness of the skin surrounding the eyes
- Changes in pulse and heartbeat
- Changes in energy level
- Changes in breathing (especially with asthma or emphysema)
- Dry mouth
- Changes in sense of taste
- Blurred vision
- Change in eye color
All medications can have side effects or can interact with other medications. Therefore, it is important that you make a list of the medications you take regularly and share this list with each doctor you see.
Laser surgery in addition to SLT laser
Laser surgery treatments other than the SLT laser may be recommended for different types of glaucoma. In open-angle glaucoma, the drain itself is treated. The laser is used to modify the drain (trabeculoplasty) to help control eye pressure. In closed-angle glaucoma, the laser creates a hole in the iris (iridotomy) to improve the flow of aqueous fluid to drain.
Surgery in the operating room
When surgery in the operating room is needed to treat glaucoma, Dr. Nika Priest-Allen at Quigley Eye Specialists uses fine microsurgical instruments to create a new drainage channel for the aqueous fluid to leave the eye. Also, modern glaucoma surgery can include the implantation of a small drainage device to improve the flow of aqueous fluid. Surgery is recommended if Dr. Priest-Allen feels it is necessary to prevent further damage to the optic nerve and glaucoma surgery is typically an outpatient procedure.
What is your part in treatment?
Treatment for glaucoma requires teamwork between you and your doctor. Your doctor at Quigley Eye Specialists can prescribe treatment for glaucoma but only you can make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions.
Once you are taking medications for glaucoma, your doctor will want to see you more frequently. Typically, you can expect to visit your optometric physician or ophthalmologist at Quigley Eye Specialists every three to four months, however, this will vary depending on your treatment needs.